Boeing defends wide-body manufacturing following whistleblower report

Boeing mounted a vociferous protection of its 777 and 787 Dreamliner wide-body applications Monday, days after a whistleblower alleged that the plane-maker had taken manufacturing shortcuts that launched potential structural flaws to each plane sorts.

On Monday, Boeing held an uncommon media briefing from its Dreamliner meeting plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, the place it detailed the specifics of the way it assembles the 787 from a number of elements which might be constructed and delivered disassembled, such because the fuselage, wings and tail part.

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The whistleblower, a Boeing engineer named Sam Salehpour, alleged final week that lots of of 787 and 777 jets had been liable to structural failure from injury brought on by fatigue. The allegations had been detailed in The Seattle Instances.

He additionally mentioned that he was harassed by Boeing because of this.

Salehpour’s 787 allegations surrounded tiny gaps between fuselage sections that stay after Boeing joined them collectively.

The areas had been first found in 2020, which led Boeing to halt deliveries of the long-haul jet for practically two years. The Federal Aviation Administration investigated Boeing’s manufacturing program and accepted a repair, and at the moment inspects every particular person 787 earlier than approving it for supply to an airline buyer.

Salehpour alleged, nevertheless, that the issue was not truly mounted, and that Boeing used extreme drive to push the items collectively, making it seem as if the gaps had been gone, relatively than utilizing small items of filler materials to fill them — a apply referred to as “shimming.”


Shimming is used to fill gaps bigger than five-thousandths of an inch, which prevents items from transferring round throughout flight and bearing extra stress.

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On the 777, Salehpour alleged that fuselage panels had been delivered from a vendor that didn’t match correctly, and mentioned that manufacturing unit staff jumped on items of the fuselage to jam them into place, doubtlessly deforming them. He claimed that he was moved to the 777 program as retaliation after elevating issues in regards to the 787.

Boeing final week was fast to refute Salehpour’s claims by arguing that every one of its 787s meet specs required for certification.

“These claims in regards to the structural integrity of the 787 are inaccurate and don’t signify the excellent work Boeing has carried out to make sure the standard and long-term security of the plane,” Boeing mentioned in a press release final week supplied to TPG. “The problems raised have been topic to rigorous engineering examination beneath FAA oversight. This evaluation has validated that these points don’t current any security issues and the plane will keep its service life over a number of a long time.”

On Monday, Boeing engineers outlined the manufacturing course of in specifics, together with the stress testing that it says proves the whole lot on the 787 is inside its specified parameters.

“Intensive design evaluation and testing that validates the entire choices we have made,” mentioned Steve Chisholm, a vp and purposeful chief engineer of mechanical and structural engineering at Boeing.

Chisholm additionally mentioned that Boeing encourages staff to talk up about issues or issues they observe, and mentioned that such reporting is vital to the corporate’s security processes.

“Having the voices of our staff heard is of utmost significance,” he mentioned. “We do imagine this makes us stronger. And it is one thing we have actually been leveraging and emphasizing.”


Along with an ethics hotline, Boeing staff can use a system known as “Communicate Up” to report points anonymously, Lisa Fahl, a Boeing vp of airplane applications engineering, mentioned Monday.

“You’ve gotten full visibility to the FAA, and that is a system the place we undergo and we do an investigation and an analysis should be carried out and documented to help something that is introduced ahead,” she mentioned.

The FAA is investigating Salehpour’s claims, in keeping with The New York Instances.

In response to questions from TPG, an FAA spokesperson declined to remark particularly relating to the report or the allegations in it, however mentioned that the FAA investigates all whistleblower studies.

“Voluntary reporting with out concern of reprisal is a crucial element in aviation security,” the spokesperson mentioned. “We strongly encourage everybody within the aviation trade to share info.”

The background: What to know in regards to the Boeing 737 MAX 9 and the MAX collection

The report comes amid a mounting disaster surrounding Boeing’s high quality management on its narrow-body 737 program, stemming from a Jan. 5 incident by which a physique panel go off an Alaska Airways 737 MAX 9 throughout a flight a couple of minutes after it departed from Portland Worldwide Airport (PDX) in Oregon.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun mentioned he would step down by the tip of the 12 months, whereas industrial airplane chief Stan Deal resigned final month.

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